Lia Collado, Omar Majumdar & Júlia Oliveira Souza
In this post, we assess the ratification status of the Convention on the International Right of Correction. This treaty was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on December 16, 1952, and entered into force on August 24, 1962, after 7 states ratified the convention.
The treaty’s main goals are to ensure individuals’ rights to accurate and reliable information. The authors of this document believe that the free flow of information is the key element of a safe and sustainable society. Thus, the convention opposes states’ use of propaganda and other communication strategies that foster disinformation and misinformation. Supporters of this convention argued that its implementation could promote greater cooperation and understanding between states.
To better understand which states have currently ratified these instruments, we created a choropleth map, using the ggplot2 package for R. Utilizing data from the UN Treaty Collection’s website, we divide UN member states into three discrete categories. First, we designate states that have not ratified or signed one of the instruments as having taken “no action”. Second, “signatory state” applies to states which have not ratified the instrument but have signed it. Lastly, a “state party” is classified as a state that has ratified the treaty or acceded to its rules.
As the map shows, the vast majority of states have neither signed nor ratified this convention. To date, of the 23 states that have become signatories to the treaty, only 17 states have ratified it. What explains this low rate of ratification? After a close reading of the convention, we argue that it does not establish clear criteria to distinguish accurate information from disinformation or misinformation. Also, states were reluctant to align their national laws with these standards because it contradicted some states’ diplomatic strategies during the Cold War. For example, both the United States and the Soviet Union used radio and other media to promote their ideologies.
In conclusion, even though this treaty seems to be outdated, many states today have been threatened by disinformation and misinformation campaigns conducted by state and non-state actors. Potentially states should rethink their current positions and either ratify this convention or negotiate a new instrument that can regulate the free flow of information to a sustainable and high standard.
Want to learn more about this legal instrument?
Data on this convention’s ratification status is available on the World Politics Data Lab’s GitHub page. The most recent dataset was uploaded to the repository on October 31, 2022.
For more information on the convention’s history and for a more recent analysis of its provisions, please refer to the following academic writings:
- Whiton, John (1950). “An International Right of Reply,” American Journal of International Law, 44(1): 141-145.
- Baade, Björnstjern (2019). “Fake News and International Law”, European Journal of International Law, 29(4): 1357-1376.
About the authors:
Lia Collado is a junior pursuing majors in International Relations & French at Drew University.
Omar Majumdar is a senior double majoring in Economics & Philosophy at Drew University.
Júlia Oliveira Souza is a junior at Drew University, where she is pursuing majors in International Relations & Spanish and a minor in Data Science.
Editor’s note: This post is part of a long-term project. Students enrolled in Drew University’s Semester on the United Nations, Principles in International Law and International Human Rights have been and will be collecting data on the ratification status of treaties deposited in the United Nations Treaty Collection. For more information on this project and its learning goals, click here.